The headline from Brandon Marshall’s latest radio appearance is along the lines of “Marshall Predicts Big Season for Hester.” The big Free Agent fish was effusive in his praise of the Ridiculous One in his appearance on the Waddle and Silvy Show Monday afternoon. Have a listen here.
“I’ve never been around a receiver, never seen a receiver who runs routes like Devin Hester does outside,” Marshall said Monday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “He has all the skills to be a Pro Bowl receiver, not a punt returner — we all know what he can do there — but a Pro Bowl receiver.
“Honestly I think he is going to have a bigger year than me this year. I just don’t think he’s been in an environment, a situation offensively that catered to him as a player. I think with [quarterback coach] Jeremy Bates and [quarterback] Jay [Cutler] growing and maturing, I think they will be able to put him in a better position this year to where he can probably do damage. I’m excited about everyone else, but the person I’m more excited to see is Devin.”
I don’t mean to rain on Marshall’s parade, but he’s not the first person who thought Devin Hester was going to have a breakout season as a wide receiver. From the days when Muhsin Muhammed was helping him line up in the right place, we’ve all hoped that Hester was the next Steve Smith.
I’m not sure if the Bears really believed that or just tried to convince themselves of that when they gave him a lucrative contract, laden in performance escalators based on his play as a wide receiver. They did their level best to convince us, to convince Jay Cutler that Devin was a “go up and get it guy.” Phil Emery was so convinced of that, he waited all of about 30 seconds to trade for Marshall when the league year started.
Let’s face it, the Bears got caught in a difficult situation when Hester’s contract came up a few years ago. It’s not like they could have let the game’s greatest returner to walk as a free agent, so they had to ante up a healthy contract to keep Hester happy. They loaded the deal full of bonus money, largely based on Hester performing as a wide receiver.
The problem Hester has isn’t running his routes; it’s getting a clear release off the line and actually catching the ball in traffic. Perhaps the addition of Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery, with Earl Bennett in the slot, will give Hester an opportunity to shine in the “Devin Package” that Emery discussed post-draft.
Then again, Devin is a pretty sensitive guy and maybe the team is pushing the “Devin Package” propaganda in an effort to convince Devin that he is still valuable to the offense. Since he’s most likely off kickoff returns anyway, what’s left for Hester anyway?
What do you think? Will Hester have a breakout season in 2012? Can Marshall create some new lanes that didn’t exist before for Hester? Let’s hear ya.